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Persona Based Selling: Sales Messaging Begins with the Customer

7 min read
Updated Oct. 18, 2023
Published May. 10, 2016

When we talk about sales messaging as it relates to persona based selling, it all starts with understanding your customers: their roles, pains, and the context in which they have those pains.

Who is your customer?

What is their function? What do they wake up in the morning thinking about? How do they communicate — phone, email, social? How do they buy? What solutions are important to them? Where do they land in the entire buying cycle? Are they an influencer? Are they the champion? Are they the decision maker?

There are a few core personas in the average buying cycle: the Champion, the Influencer, the Decision Maker, and the Executive. Each persona is specific to their function within the stage/size of their company. The sales manager at a 100 person company could be the decision maker. However, at a 1,000 person company, they may only be a influencer or champion. Persona is not specific to title but function within the organization.

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can begin to build sales messaging that will resonate with your customers. For example:

First you have a VP of Sales at an SMB SaaS company. They’re interested specifically in the pipeline contribution of the organization’s sales development team. How many opportunities are they setting up for the Account Execs, and how large are those opportunities? What’s the overall revenue potential based on those appointments?

But the Sales Development Director at that same company cares more about qualified opportunities set, with just a portion on pipeline. Their concerns are more along the lines of: Is the process architected in a way that will scale? Is the pipeline that the SDR team is generating this quarter going to increase the hiring of the next? They want to understand the team dynamics, the management, and everything that goes into that structure.

Then you get to the manager level, where they’re not as worried about the pipeline contribution as they are the activities of their team, the morale, the process, and the workflow.

Now, given the different nature of these functions — the same sales messaging is not going to resonate with each individually. You have to cater your sales messaging in a way that shows your true empathy for their specific needs — and your understanding of their pain points — which will, in turn, allow you to give a value prop that solves those pain points.

And when we talk about sales messaging — and how it relates to the customers and buyer personas — we need to uncover how the two are synced. This is key when you’re selling to different personas within the same organization.

Say you’re selling to a Sales Ops person (likely an influencer or decision maker within the buying cycle). They’ll be more worried about making sure that the data is accurate, that it flows into Salesforce correctly, and that it’s efficient. They’ll want the ability to pull the same reports, and to make sure that no one can misinterpret or misrepresent the data, and everything’s logged efficiently and effectively.

They’re not really concerned at all about the activity numbers or the pipeline contribution, but the way that data is presented. Their pain points are going to be completely separate from that of another persona within the organization.

When you’re in these complex buying cycles (especially when you have committee sales) you have to convince each one of those personas that you are going to solve their pains. It’s so important to cater your sales messaging to the specific factors of each persona.

Now, this skill set, too often lacking within new sales teams, is nothing new for the marketing and sales industries. Let’s take Content Marketing for example: from top of the funnel, to middle of the funnel, bottom of the funnel, and retention — the entire buyer’s journey is being covered through different content.

Top of the funnel content is designed to get the customer interested in the concept from a broad perspective. It’s focused on what they’re trying to accomplish, and what you’re trying to help them solve.

Middle of the funnel content covers the understanding of these pains, and the proof that they can be solved. It answers the customer’s tactical question, “how do they help me and my organization achieve my goals.”

Bottom of the funnel content is going to be around ROI, conversion numbers, what the potential net benefit achievable with a solution like yours.

Retention content is going to be around the solution itself, and how can you enable your customers to work smarter through the strategies, techniques, processes and workflows that your solution executes.

Do your research and find a way to give them differentiated ways to solve their pains more effectively than your competitors. Show that you understand their needs more deeply than anyone else. That true level of empathy and understanding is what will bring you to the status of a trusted advisor for your customers.

You need to effectively communicate how you’ll not only help them to achieve their goals and relieve their pain points, but do so in a way that scales. Show them that your solution is both cost efficient and work efficient: keeping the customer from solving manually, building an in-house solution, or going to another vendor.

Throughout the entire process, the sales messaging needs to be catered in a way that shows that centers around the customer. The sales messaging is personalized — meant specifically for that persona function.

Going back to the Sales Ops example: that persona is less likely to be answering the phone or living on email, but it’s your responsibility to find a way to connect with them. Being over-personalized, understanding what they’re trying to accomplish, and giving them relevant content within that sales messaging is critical.

While it may mean that you have different tracks for what happens as they engage with your sales messaging, once one sentiment resonates, you’ll know where exactly to double down. And through A/B testing and experimentation, you’ll being able to go deeper and deeper with your understanding of your customer and their needs.

Once you’ve uncovered the right sales messaging based on the customer, and you’ve mapped out the buyer’s journey,  it’s imperative that you insert these insights into a workflow that matches that buyer journey and the home base for each persona. Go to social for marketing customers. Find IT customers via email. Call a sales customer.  Each one lives and responds within a different channel of communication.

The customer is at the heart of persona based selling, and each and every workflow needs to be just as centered around the customer as the sales messaging itself. And as the selling landscape evolves, it’s becoming more and more critical every day to communicate with your buyers personally and intentionally. To accomplish this, sellers must be able to quickly organize their people by similar personas, create custom messaging for those personas, and then test those messages at scale.

Salesloft is excited to announce our May release, catered specifically to the needs and workflow of persona based sellers. Check out this video to learn more!

For a more comprehensive look into Salesloft’s internal SDR process, download the second section of our newest playbook trilogy, The Sales Development Playbook: Executing. In this section, we share the ins and outs of efficiently using Salesloft to call and email prospects. Download our free white paper and optimize your sales efforts to start crushing your sales development goals today.